Friday, September 18, 2015

Let's Talk About Tuna Salad Sandwiches

Can we talk about tuna salad? I love tuna salad. A scoop of white and gooey tuna salad on rye bread with mustard, lettuce, tomato, and red onion if I'm alone, plus a side of pickles and coleslaw. That will be my last meal. With something sweet to wash down the inevitable tuna aftertaste (can't have a bad taste in my mouth when I hit the afterlife, amirite?).

The first tuna sandwich I fell in love with was from Panera. I was in fifth grade and I thought Panera was the coolest eating establishment in suburbia because I could order broccoli cheddar soup in a bread bowl and "fresh-squeezed" lemonade. How cool was it to get soup served in bread, then eat the bread in which your soup was served? Unbeatable, that's how cool. As for the sandwich portion of the menu, I was blown away by how delicious mayonnaise could make something taste -- my mom's tuna sandwiches were good, but the mayonnaise to tuna ratio was always too healthy. I was convinced that there was a secret ingredient in Panera's iteration, so I looked it up in weird early aught online forums, decided the key ingredient was relish, then tried to recreate the sandwich at home. Maybe I added too much relish because that shit was disgusting.

Based on many tuna sandwiches since 2001 (I've had three this week!), I've concluded that a good one has to have enough tuna that the filling falls out of the sandwich when you pick it up, dijon mustard spread on both sides, iceberg lettuce and a thick slice of tomato. The bread must be rye. A slice of rye has more surface area than a typical whole wheat square. Sourdough sometimes works. White bread gets too soggy. Possible pitfalls include spreading mustard on one side, using romaine lettuce instead of iceberg, and toasting the bread. A sandwich made with toasted bread is a casualty to the roof of my mouth and puts me in a bad mood.

I've found that only two types of places make a tuna salad sandwich that meets the above requirements: fast-casual chains that serve their sandwiches in baskets (Panera, Le Boulanger) or diners. I wish I could put Lenny's on the list but they don't add enough mayonnaise to the tuna, nor do they put enough tuna salad in between the bread. It makes me sad because I want to love Lenny's but that's a real dealbreaker.

I wrote this post because I just had an unbelievably satisfying tuna salad sandwich that made up for the bad Lenny's one I had last weekend.


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